One of the best ways to experience California’s vibrant culinary scene is while on a cycling tour. You’ll work up an appetite for fresh, artisanal foods and sip fine wines while touring local vineyards. Plan your next holiday around a few of these iconic dining destinations or let the talented trip designers from DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co customise one for you.
Here is DuVine's curated list of the top 25 restaurants in NorCal:
1. Al's Place, San Francisco, CA
The fresh, creative handling of fruits, nuts and vegetables at Al’s Place puts
meat in a supporting role. This Michelin-starred neighbourhood spot offers a truly creative take on California’s fresh bounty. Local handmade cheeses, original sauces and brilliant spicing make every dish sparkle.
2. Atelier Crenn, San Francisco, CA
For Chef Dominique Crenn, food is poetry and performance. She artfully assembles words on the menu, then creates culinary masterpieces that live up
to their descriptions. Try Atelier Crenn's 18-course tasting menu and experience culinary drama.
3. Bottega Napa Valley, Yountville, CA
Guided by Michael Chiarello, the Emmy-winning host of Food Network's Easy Entertaining, Bottega Napa Valley offers mouth-watering southern Italian delicacies. Italy’s traditions are expressed through California’s own Mediterranean coastal bounty. The resulting seafood-centred fusion is
4. Chez Panisse, Berkeley, CA
Legendary Chez Panisse was started by Alice Waters and Paul Aratow in 1971 in an intimate and cosy Arts and Crafts house in Berkeley, California. The restaurant focuses on food that is organically and locally grown and harvested in ways that are ecologically sound and take care of the land for future generations.
5. Ciccio, Yountville, CA
The same Napa Valley family who own Altamura Vineyards and Winery opened Ciccio, a cosy restaurant and pizzeria. They grow many of their own vegetables, and the wood-fired oven adds an impeccably traditional flavour to the seasonal pizza toppings.
6. Cotogna, San Francisco, CA
With rustic Italian dishes served in the heart of San Francisco, Cotogna offers spit-roasted meats, wood-fired pizzas and other traditional fresh fare. A lively environment both within and around the restaurant makes it a popular neighbourhood destination.
7. Delfina, San Francisco, CA
At Delfina you can expect exquisitely prepared Italian comfort food in a sophisticated urban setting. Always popular with neighbourhood regulars,
Delfina can be counted on for on-point pastas and the freshest fish and vegetables.
8. Foreign Cinema, San Francisco, CA
Foreign Cinema has held a secure place among San Francisco’s top restaurants for the past 15 years. Bringing together fine films, an art gallery and thoughtfully sourced fresh, local foods, this one-of-a-kind destination represents the heart of the City by the Bay.
9. Lazy Bear, San Francisco, CA
Lazy Bear sells tickets to a social experience in which all diners are simultaneously seated at long communal tables. The cooks then describe each course of that night's unique tasting menu. The occasion is an opportunity to share an exceptional culinary journey.
10. Liholiho Yacht Club, San Francisco, CA
Liholiho Yacht Club, serving a fun combo of Hawaiian, Indian and Chinese food, was started with a unique backstory about Hawaiian boat racers who held pop-up barbecue parties to pay their racing expenses. Now the lighthearted tone is a counterpoint to serious culinary artistry.
11. Manresa, Los Gatos, CA
'Local, classic and international' is how Manresa describes its cuisine. Chef David Kinch creates nightly fixed-price tasting menus that have earned him a three-star Michelin rating for 2016. Experience his passionate attachment to the purest farm-to-table aesthetic.
12. Meadowood Restaurant, St Helena, CA
The chefs at this three-star Michelin restaurant seek for 'seriousness, for meaning and for permanence'. They communicate something pure and authentic in the tasting menu they assemble for you. The Restaurant at Meadowood also offers extensive wine pairings as an expression of its wine-country setting.
13. Nopa, San Francisco, CA
Nopa styles itself as a 'San Francisco gathering place', and its blog chronicles efforts to bring together local food growers and producers. The burgers and pork chops at this ultra-popular restaurant are justly famous, but they work some special magic with appetisers as well.
14. Osteria Stellina, Point Reyes Station, CA
Focused on casually excellent Italian-accented food, Osteria Stellina offers an elegant place to stop when you're exploring Point Reyes. Phenomenally fresh and artistically presented dishes delight guests after they have spent the day wandering this breathtaking wild coast.
15. Saison, San Francisco, CA
The name is a French word meaning 'season', and Saison designs its nightly tasting menu around whatever local foods that day has yielded. Each night’s menu can be personalised to your individual requests when you call for a reservation.
16. Scopa, Healdsburg, CA
For the ultimate in small-scale authentic Italian dining, tiny Scopa in Healdsburg wins the prize. With just 5–10 tables, this intimate wine-country establishment treats its patrons like family. Reservations are often essential to secure your spot at this popular little place.
17. SHED Café, Healdsburg, CA
When you share a community table at SHED Café, you’ll make new friends in the casual, friendly environment. The San Francisco Chronicle called SHED Café 'the best restaurant in Sonoma County', pointing out its stunning integration of fresh food and a naturally lovely setting.
18. Slanted Door, San Francisco, CA
Located in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, Slanted Door offers an upscale take on traditional Vietnamese cuisine. The extensive menu features local organic meats and fresh seafood as well as spellbinding views of the water and the Bay Bridge.
19. Solbar, Calistoga, CA
Whether you visit Solbar with just one companion or with a large group, you’ll find a gracious space that offers perfect comfort. The outdoor patio, with twinkling lights suspended from overhanging trees, creates a magical setting for a special occasion. Fresh seasonal menus are always changing at this Michelin-starred wine-country destination.
20. SPQR, San Francisco, CA
The letters SPQR represented the government of the ancient Roman Republic. Executive Chef Matthew Accarrino celebrates his Roman roots by designing a soulful, personal menu that has won numerous awards. As a dedicated cyclist, he enjoys the chance to serve his beautiful food to patrons on wine-country bike tours.
21. State Bird Provisions, San Francisco, CA
The quail is California's state bird, and State Bird Provisions began with a focus on ways to serve quail. Now it has evolved into a quirky and intensely popular provider of tapas-style small dishes, offering stunningly unexpected combinations of ingredients.
22. Sushi Ran, Sausalito, CA
Each day’s catch inspires the creation of sushi, maki and sashimi, assembled in painterly perfection by Chef Yoshi Tome. Sushi Ran is one of the Bay Area’s top-rated restaurants, located just a block from the waterfront in Sausalito.
23. Terra and Bar Terra, St Helena, CA
A fusion of Asian and New American flavours scores a Michelin star every year for this visually lush restaurant in the wine country. Bar Terra, in the same historic building, offers creative cocktails and a selection of sophisticated small plates.
24. Terrapin Creek, Bodega Bay, CA
Taking small-town comfort food up a notch, Terrapin Creek has earned a Michelin star for its innovative cuisine. Fresh interpretations of American food combined with warm, personal service make for a delightful experience.
25. The French Laundry, Yountville, CA
In the 22 years since Chef Thomas Keller first encountered this quaint stone cottage in Napa Valley, he has transformed it into one of the nation’s most renowned restaurants. For six years in a row, The French Laundry has earned three Michelin stars.